In this week's Staff News we'll introduce you to one of our amazing teacher-librarians, give you the inside scoop on our Advisory Task Force, and share some pertinent information from our most recent School Board meeting. When you're finished with all that, click here to listen to our latest podcast, where we talk Little Orphan Annie, get an update on the Pierce County Skills Center, and discuss great literature.

(Pictured above: The students and staff at Camas Prairie Elementary are working hard in the lead up to winter break.)

Teacher-librarians instill love of reading

The teacher-librarian position is a unique one in Bethel. While many school districts have librarians who split time between buildings, Lisa Steudel, teacher-librarian at Katherine G. Johnson Elementary said our district knows the importance of the position.

“Of all the districts around us, we’re the only district that has an elementary librarian full time in each of our elementary schools,” she said.

Students are the ones who benefit from this commitment, because teacher-librarians work alongside classroom teachers to help further our students’ education. And that’s just one of the many things that fills their days. They collaborate with teachers, extend lessons that students are doing in their own classrooms, help students with passion projects, teach digital citizenship, and manage three different inventories at each school – the library collection, school technology, and curriculum – with the help of the library clerks at each building.

Librarians also meet with their principals to share ideas and collaborate on bigger projects.

In her role, Steudel also serves as a TOSA and works with district leadership to help support teacher-librarians across the district.

“We’re a big enough group that we need a leader,” she said. “Someone that can work with things behind the scenes. There’s always projects we’re working on as a group, or to go into buildings and help somebody new in the position.”

Episode 18: It's a POD-knock life!

Welcome to episode 18 of Bethel's best (and only) podcast!

Oh my goodness, oh my goodness! In this week's episode, Conor and Doug finally unite their lockets and take on the hundred year history of Annie!

They also take a peek inside the halls of the Pierce County Skills Center and hear about all the amazing options available to students there. As if that wasn't enough, they also talk with one of our teacher-librarians about the power of books.

Click here to listen to the episode, and be sure to subscribe to the show wherever you listen to podcasts. We are available everywhere finer podcasts are served, including Spotify, Apple PodcastsAmazon MusiciHeart Radio, and Google Podcasts.

If you're already a fan of the show, be sure to share with a friend!

Found on Facebook


Shout Out to the most amazing group of individuals! My elementary team of TOSAs and Student Resource Specialists are an incredible group of compassionate, patient and supportive leaders. In the first few months of school they've redesigned classrooms, mentored new teachers and paraeducators, supported buildings with writing IEPs and leading meetings, provided professional development and supported teams through difficult conversations with families...and the year is just getting started! Special Services couldn't run without you!

-- Toni Cheever, ESD


I missed the Thanksgiving Shout Outs, but I want to say how thankful I am for my team! This team goes above and beyond to make sure payroll and accounts payable is audited and processed on time, twice a month. They work especially hard during the holiday season. I appreciate their hard work, positive attitudes and really do enjoy working with them every day.

-- Rhonda Ohlson, Finance

Do you know anyone who deserves a little extra recognition? Fill out your own staff "Shout Out" here.

ESC Holiday Schedule

With the holiday season now upon us, we wanted to remind you of those dates that the Educational Service Center will be open with limited service or closed for regular business. Limited service dates are those days with limited staff availability, no front desk reception, and no service to the general public. On closure dates, the ESC campus will be closed.

Stuff the Bus on Saturday

Advisory class is a time during the school day that allows teachers to work with sixth through twelfth grade students around a variety of topics. Whether it’s the state-required High School and Beyond planning, social emotional learning, or housekeeping items like class or building surveys, advisory is the time during the school day where it all happens.

The Advisory Task Force ensures that each grade level advisory class leads to the next. Chad Honig, Executive Director of Secondary Schools, said that’s key, especially because of the environment that it creates for students.

“Advisory is an opportunity to build strong relationships with students,” he said.

The Advisory Task Force makes sure we are meeting the standards of the High School and Beyond law as students cover college and career exploration and create resumés. The team also works to push advisory to the next level. Last year they developed a piloting process for a new state requirement for a digital High School and Beyond tool for students. The process took the entire school year and included a lot of student voice.

Made up of school administrators, teachers, counselors, CTE and behavioral health staff, the Task Force meets monthly, and subgroups of the team can actually meet more often than that. 

This year students and teachers are being surveyed so the task force can learn what they feel are the most important parts of advisory, to help the team plan future lessons down the road.

We’ll be talking more about advisory and the work of the task force on an upcoming podcast.

SLHS students awarded grant, performs for Board

At a recent School Board meeting, the Spanaway Lake High School band and Spanaway Lake High School music company were awarded grants from the Music Matters License Plate project. A portion of the license fees are set aside to augment school music program funds to enable the purchase of equipment, supplies, and repairs beyond their normal budgeted expenses. To celebrate the grants, Spanaway Lake High School’s Music Company performed at the School Board meeting and were on hand to receive the checks. Click on the image above to watch the performance.

Stay safe in icy conditions

Winter weather is upon us, and we're already dealing with icy conditions on roads and in parking lots. Follow these simple rules to keep safe on ice:


  • Wear proper footwear with good traction and keep shoe grips in your car.
  • Take slow, small steps.
  • Use your feet as probes to detect possible slip, trip and fall hazards.
  • Hold on to railings and other stable objects when possible.
  • Do not listen to music or talk on a cellphone while walking.
  • Understand that de-icer provides a false sense of security. You can't always predict a rapid drop in temperature and melted ice can refreeze quickly.

Cold weather won't slow bond projects

There’s a chill in the air, and winter is just around the corner, but that isn’t stopping our amazing construction teams from making progress on a number of exciting bond projects.

Construction on the new Naches Trail Elementary is moving right along towards its fall 2023 completion. The roof is expected to be completed in mid December. Naches Trail Elementary was originally slated to get a complete remodel and expansion. But a cost analysis determined it would actually be more expensive to modernize the current school than it would be to build a new school.

The new 77,000-square foot school will house 41 general classrooms and is scheduled to be ready for students late next year

Read about the rest of our exciting bond projects here.

School Board Meeting Recap 11-22-22

Non-Discrimination and Affirmative Action Plan

Todd Mitchell, Executive Director of Human Resources presented a report on the Non-Discrimination and Affirmative Action Plan.

Proposed Pierce County Village

Duke Paulson, Tacoma Rescue Mission Executive Director, and Heather Moss, Director of Pierce County Human Services, presented information on the proposed Pierce County Village project.

Curriculum Adoption: Educurious Social Studies and Science Project-Based Learning

Challenger Middle School is the new alternative middle school program (grades 7 and 8) that opened on November 14, 2022. A key component of this new program is the use of a project-based learning approach in science and social studies, as well as CTE electives. Curricula developed by Educurious will be utilized in Science and Social Studies classes and will be used in conjunction with adopted curriculum resources.

Power Outage and Generator Update

Within the Bethel School District, there are three different power providers. Due to the size of our district, the number of providers, and the varying topography, power outages are an expected occurrence. While many of our schools/sites have generators, some do not. Generators provide power for essential basic functions of the school during a power outage.

Construction Budget Update

Paul Marquardt, Executive Director of Operations, gave an update on the construction schedule and budget. Learn more about it here.

Certificated Substitute Pay Rate

The Board approved a temporary increase to the daily substitute rates in the agreement with the Bethel Education Association, Article 50, Item C, to $200 for regular substitutes and $230 for Bethel School District retirees and existing staff with continuing or non-continuing contracts, effective November 23, 2022 for the remainder of the 2022-23 school year. Learn more here.

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Bethel School District does not discriminate in any programs or activities on the basis of sex, race, creed, religion, color, national origin, age, veteran or military status, sexual orientation, gender expression or identity, disability, or the use of a trained dog guide or service animal and provides equal access to the Boy Scouts and other designated youth groups. The following employees have been designated to handle questions and complaints of alleged discrimination: Title IX Coordinator, Director of Athletics and Security: 253.800.4303; Section 504/ADA Coordinator, Executive Director of Special Education: 253.800.2300; Civil Rights Compliance Coordinator, Director of Equity and Achievement: 253.800.2019. All individuals may be reached at this address: 516 176th Street East, Spanaway, WA 98387. // El Distrito Escolar de Bethel no discrimina en sus programas o actividades por motivos de sexo, raza, credo, religión, color, nacionalidad, edad, condición de veterano de guerra o grado militar, orientación sexual, expresión de género o identidad, discapacidad o uso de perro guía entrenado o animal de servicio, además ofrece igualdad de acceso a los Boy Scouts y a otros grupos de jóvenes especificados. El empleado mencionado a continuación ha sido designado para atender consultas y quejas de supuesta discriminación: Coordinador del Título IX, Director de Atletismo y Seguridad: 253.800.4303; Coordinadora de Sección 504/ADA, Directora Ejecutiva de Educación Especial: 253.800.2300; Coordinadora de Cumplimiento de Derechos Civiles Directora de Equidad y Logro: 253.800.2019. Todas las personas pueden ser contactadas en esta dirección: 516 176th Street East, Spanaway, WA 98387.